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Tarot History )

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.magick,alt.divination
From: Jess Karlin 
Subject: Re: Tarot History (was Re: Pamela Smith Deck (was ....))
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 1996 09:12:07 +0000

nagasiva wrote:

> kaliyuga
> 49960703 AA1
> nagasiva:
> |>|>Waite is best known for the Smith-Waite tarot, which a woman named
> |>|>Smith, who is too often neglected within tarot studies,
> Jess Karlin :
> |Neglected in what way?   Kaplan tells her story in the first part
> |of Volume III of his tarot encyclopedia.
> neglected by popular books 

There is a rule that can be generally applied to tarot books---
the value of the book is always inversely proportional to its 
popularity, i.e., the most popular books tend to be worthless.
Kaplan's encyclopedias might be an exception to this but I'm
not sure how popular they really are.

> which presume to pertain to that particular
> deck.  

A corollary to the above rule---the presumptuousness
of a tarot book is always proportional to its popularity.

> Kaplan is thorough, as you note.

Kaplan did of course 'waite' till Volume III to make his
witness unto Pam.

> |.... Although the deck was certainly the most popular tarot design
> |of this century, being copied by just about everyone (and seldom
> |with much understanding of what its symbolism meant), I don't think
> |it makes much sense to claim that it was this deck that inspired the
> |'occult revival'.
> *an* inspiration.  most of the people I knew in the 70's through 80's
> and even into the 90's who had interest in the tarot found this deck
> and Waite's accompanying book before finding *anything* else about the
> occult.  

Unquestionably the Waite deck, or its bad copies, were THE 
main influence in getting people started in tarot, but the
inspiration for this revival was attached to the general
60's trend of rejection of almost all traditional rules and 
regulations. It's difficult for people today, looking at
these almost Nixon-esque ex-hippies and ex-radicals to believe
that anything interesting could have come from THAT generation.
Let's just say their best days were in their youth.

> |...Waite intentionally corrupted his deck in fact to hide the
> |true attributions of occult symbolism from his customers,
> arguably so did Crowley in a couple minor ways, 

Seems as though Frieda 'helped' when she was particularly
exasperated with him. She did not always paint exactly
what she was supposed to. 

> though he explained
> these as some 'correction' (involving his Liber Al in at least one case).
> I can't imagine that he took seriously his reversals of the cards which
> obviously futzed up the symbolic zodiacal sequence (and his transposals
> would have).  perhaps I've misunderstood something.

I think he REALLY thought that thing was a 'proof' of the
'higher' origination of Aiwass. But anyone watching the
painful and quite literal 'twistings' involved in the thing,
along with the fact it just makes no good sense, would
have trouble with it, including Crowley. Even at the end
he was struggling with it I believe. 

You know, the problem for AC, as it has been for so many people,
it seems to me, who acquire wisdom via the personalization
of their own insights into 'other beings', is they can never
be sure what to trust and what not to trust. After all, the
'truth' came from this higher being---'he wouldn't lie to me
so I MUST make sense of this thing that does not make sense'.
Whereas, if one simply accepts these kind of thoughts
as one's own, he will more readily reject, without
fear and consternation that he is insulting some
spirit or power not his own, what is clearly wrong.

On the other hand, AC had a cruel sense of humor, one
I think he directed even at himself. This might be an
example of this humor at work.

> |AND he was always wanting to move Golden Dawn, and its symbolism,
> |toward 'respectability', meaning Christianity.
> Crowley seems to have had quite the opposite agenda.

Oh, I don't think so. What is 'opposite'? Satanism? Talk
to Heidrick about that one. 

I think he used the Devil as a remedy. Christ/Satan is really 
one symbol anyway, not two.
> |...Most people like little stories instead of arcane symbols.
> I think this is a very important assertion and my experience supports it.
> arguably this is the reason that the Smith-Waite appears to have reached
> many more than competing popular divination systems, such as I Ching.

I Jing is way beyond most people as a divination tool. It requires, 
even more than tarot, a facility for analogy that most users 
do not possess. Certainly Pam's paintings are more user-friendly
than Thoth's traditional Golden Dawn-style minors, but, as I've
said in the past, actually Thoth is far better since it does
not poison the mind with rigid, and almost cartoonish, 
depictions of these complex ideas. Clearly Waite intended
his minors mainly as helps for people doing fortune-telling, 
something I think he even admitted.


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